And I Endorse This

Santa Clara athletes are navigating the world of sponsorships, from sandwich vouchers to glucose monitoring equipment.

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Every player on Santa Clara women’s soccer team received a remote-controlled mattress pad from ChiliSleep and the opportunity to make $600 for promoting the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative during SCU’s Day of Giving. A baseball player with Type-1 diabetes received a year’s worth of glucose monitoring equipment for endorsing the manufacturer Dexcom. And a men’s water polo player received 75 sandwich vouchers from Ike’s Love & Sandwiches in exchange for writing two social media posts. #DutchCrunch

Welcome to the brave new world of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) for NCAA college athletes. Before July 2021, student athletes were prohibited from accepting products or money from outside sources. But California, followed by other states, passed legislation to allow athletes to be paid for event appearances, coaching clinics, product promotion, and other activities, and these laws were upheld by the Supreme Court last June.

It’s the job of Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Ryan Merz to ensure that SCU athletes don’t endorse anything that’s illegal or against the University’s values. The NCAA says individuals should report any NIL activities to their respective schools, but without an overriding policy, rules are different across the country. Unlike other states, California doesn’t allow schools to negotiate deals for their athletes, leaving it up to the students themselves. The men’s water polo player walked a block off campus to negotiate his Ike’s deal, for example. Says Merz: “It’s really the Wild West.”

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